New Delhi: Terming India an "affordable destination" for quality education, HRD Minister Smriti Irani on Monday said the release of rankings of educational institutions and decision by IITs to hold entrance tests abroad will draw more foreign students to the country.
Speaking at an event organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in New Delhi, Irani spoke of the importance of educational and cultural diplomacy.
"The challenge before the country's educational institutions is whether the engagement with foreign students is to be limited only on the basis of scholarships or can they be invited because of excellence in various fields," she said.
"India is an affordable destination for high quality education," she said.
Irani said the rankings of Indian institutes under the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) will be out on 4 April and asked MEA officials to leverage this data to reach out to foreign students.
"Over 3,600 higher education institutes have provided their data for these rankings," the HRD minister said, referring to IIT council's proposal to hold entrance tests in around 8 foreign countries.
"Recognising the need to increase the inflow of foreign students, the IIT council took a unanimous decision to ensure that in 2017 students from eight nations, including Saarc nations, would be allowed to sit for IIT-JEE (Advanced) exam," she said.
The outreach is being made so that meritorious students, who seek no financial support, can be given affordable
technical education in India, the minister said.
Addressing a gathering which included ICCR chief Lokesh Chandra and several official from external affairs ministry, Irani said, "Cultural diplomacy has been at the forefront of her ministry's engagement with the MEA for too long."
"The PM now has given an added push through education diplomacy. I am hopeful this educational diplomacy is a part
of diplomacy that will take us from strength to strength in the times to come," she said.
Indian Council for Cultural Relations chief Chandra, in his speech, said ICCR annually offers around 3,350 scholarship slots to international students, wishing to study in India in various programmes and disciplines.
"These scholarships cover traditional courses in Indian Classical dance and music, Ayurveda, Yoga etc. to modern,
secular and development studies. More than 6,000 foreign students from around 120 countries of the world are on the
roll of ICCR almost at any given point of time," Chandra said.